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Martin Lindstrom on Branding, Small Data, and Knowing Consumers – Episode 51

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There is so much talk about “big data” these days and the impact it has on helping companies and brands understand the choices and activities of their market. But today’s guest believes that the best approach to understanding consumers is not big data, but what he calls “small data.” Martin Lindstrom is a branding consultant who has made a name for himself by his “on the ground” approach to interacting with and understanding consumers by trying to see the world through their eyes. This is a fascinating conversation about how the most impacting brands are able to build their followings by knowing their followers. Take the time to listen, you’ll be amazed at the insights Martin has into business, life, and the world we live in.

“Very few people in our world are willing to get their hands dirty.” ~ Martin LindstromClick To Tweet

Powerful brands know how to infuse emotion into what they do.

The difference between the brands that succeed on a huge scale and those that don’t is often wrapped up in how they are able to communicate and encapsulate their products or services with emotion. People are emotional beings and it’s often the emotion that motivates much more than logic. Today’s guest, Martin Lindstrom, has become an expert at understanding how people make decisions and the role emotion plays in that process. He’s a leading branding consultant who has helped brands like Lego, Lowes Grocery, and others understand their market and build a brand that moves them on an emotional level. This is a powerful conversation you won’t want to miss.

Simplicity and clarity are the hallmarks of a powerful brand.

If you were asked which car company was the safest, you’d likely answer “Volvo.” That’s not by accident. The leadership of Volvo has spent a lot of time and money creating that image for themselves and working to make it true. They’ve discovered the power of simplifying the vision for their company into a succinct and clear word that communicates on an emotional level: “safety.” On this episode of In The Arena Martin Lindstrom chats about the way powerful brands become so powerful, what they understand about consumers that most brands don’t, and why it’s important for companies to get into the world of their consumers.

“A product is produced in a factory. A brand is produced in our minds.” ~Martin LindstromClick To Tweet

What IS “small data?”

Martin Lindstrom’s latest book, “Small Data” is a contrarian look into consumer research. He believes that companies and brands cannot understand their consumers as they should by starting with all the “big data” that is gathered through statistics, buying patterns, and sales figures. It’s his contention that the brands that truly succeed in changing lives and changing the world are the ones that are willing to get their hands dirty in the real world of the consumer and discover the real life, emotional things that motivate action and decisions for people. Anthony digs into the idea with Martin on this episode, so make sure you listen.

Big data is the “what” and small data is the “why.”

Martin Lindstrom believes that trying to increase sales through looking at consumer behavior is a backward approach to increasing sales. That so-called “big data” is the “what” behind consumer behavior – it only tells what they do in a given circumstance. But much more important to Martin, and he believes to every brand, is the “why” behind the consumer’s decisions. When a brand can tap into the reasons consumers do what they do, then the brand is positioned to create products and services that truly serve the needs of the consumer and skyrocket the brand’s influence and success as a result. Hear Martin describe the usefulness of small data on this episode.

“Big data is the ‘what.’ Small data tells us ‘why?’” ~ Martin LindstromClick To Tweet

Outline of this great episode

  • [2:03] Anthony’s introduction to Martin Lindstrom and this episode.
  • [3:24] Martin’s “Denglish” accent and where it comes from.
  • [3:47] What does a “branding consultant” do (Martin’s role).
  • [5:00] How Martin’s creation of his own “Legoland” landed him a job working for Lego.
  • [6:14] The brands which Martin sees as being effective at infusing emotion into their brand.
  • [8:40] The most powerful brands boil their vision down to one word.
  • [11:03] The differences between “types” of people and how Martin uses that knowledge in branding.
  • [15:27] The way our personal experience feeds into the way we experience brands.
  • [17:21] Why the difference between small data and big data is vital.
  • [20:44] How brands compensate for the ways that people are “out of balance.”
  • [27:20] What our internet passwords say about us.
  • [30:25] The revealing power of emojis.
  • [31:55] What are the small data cues in everyday life?
  • [36:27] Martin’s thoughts about meditation, getting away from screens, and life transitions.
  • [38:40] Why Martin stopped reading business books.
  • [39:33] The most important book Martin has ever read.
  • [40:05] The people who have had the strongest impact on Martin.
  • [41:50] The most important lesson Martin has learned.
  • [46:30] What Martin hopes to be remembered for.

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The theme song “Into the Arena” is written and produced by Chris Sernel. You can find it on Soundcloud

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“Today’s leaders don’t know how to trust their instincts.” ~ Martin LindstromClick To Tweet

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